Hitting pay dirt

Every once in a while every family researcher will receive something new that makes his or her heart jump with joy. I just recently had such an experience. Months ago I got in touch with the pastor in Neuenwalde to ask if he could send me a picture of the page in his church records from 1683 that is said to contain the name of Anna Elisabeth Wyneken nee von Werdenhof – see my post “Possible Swedish Ancestors after all”.

It’s been a long, long wait but finally the pastor at the church sent me photographs of the two pages covering the year 1683. And there it was!!!! At the bottom of the left column on the right page (photo of both pages at the bottom of this posting, closeup at the top), the fifth through third lines from the bottom you can read:

Fr. Anna Elisabeth Wienecken, gebohrene von Werdenhoffen, H. AmbtM zu Beederkesa Eheliebste

Translation:

Mistress Anna Elisabeth Wienecken, née von Werdenhof, dearly beloved wife of the bailiff in Bederkesa

The entry which contains this line is a record of the baptism of Anna Meyer, and Anna Elisabeth Wyneken appears in the list of godparents. Anna Meyer, the godchild, was born on September 23, 1683 and baptized on September 25. Her father, Andreas, was a bailiff (Amtmann) in Neuenwalde, so at least in a sense a colleague of Anna Elisabeth Wyneken’s husband, Peter Christoph Wyneken, in nearby Bederkesa.

The first godmother listed was a certain Miss Anna von der Liedt. I can’t help but wonder whether she might not have been a relative of Peter Christoph’s sister-in-law, Augusta Juliana von Böselager, whose mother was a von der Lieth.

And then there’s also the possibility that the little girl herself, Anna Meyer, was a relative of Peter Christoph’s mother, Catharina Oelgardt nee Meier. Maybe this baptism entry documents the getting together of several relatives to celebrate a new addition to the family. … And then again maybe I’m projecting too much into the names.

In any event, the reason I was so thrilled to get these photographs was not because of Anne Meyer but because of Anna Elisabeth von Werdenhof. This is actual physical proof that she was married to Peter Christoph Wyneken. Together they founded what I call the Bederkesa branch.

And since one of their granddaughters, Auguste Juliane Wyneken, married into the Rüstje branch by wedding her first cousin once removed, Joachim Wolf Wyneken, Anna Elisabeth Wyneken is also an ancestor of today’s members of the Rüstje branch. Thus all blood Wynekens living today, regardless of whether they are from the Bederkesa or the Rüstje branch are descended from this woman, Anna Elisabeth von Werdenhof, who shows up in these church records from almost 350 years ago.


The baptism and birth recorded here happen to have taken place at about the time that Peter Christoph died. My information says that he died in about 1683 or 1684. But he was apparently still alive at the time this entry was written because otherwise he would most likely have been listed as deceased.

One of the oldest Wyneken family sources, a list of the owners of the manor at Rüstje written by Anna Elisabeth’s great-great-great granddaughter, Auguste Juliane Martin (1800-1886), gives the name of Peter Christoph’s wife as “Wöweken“, which I believe is a Germanized form of the French word “veuve“, meaning widow. Since Anna Elisabeth died in 1724, roughly 40 years after her husband, maybe she never remarried and the family fondly referred to her as “the little widow”, and the name was passed on through the generations so that her descendants still referred to her that way over a 100 years after her death when Auguste Juliane wrote down her little family tree.

Another explanation for or, perhaps better, facet of the nickname “Wöweken” might have to do with the possibility that, as mentioned in my post “Possible Swedish Ancestors after all”, Anna Elisabeth von Werdenhoff was the daughter of Lorenz von Werdenhof. In that case, Peter Christoph Wyneken was her second husband, because Lorenz’ daughter, Anna Elisabeth, is documented elsewhere as being the wife of Otto Christer von Spandekow. If that is true, Otto must have died at a relatively early age, leaving Anna Elisabeth a widow for the first time before she married Peter Christoph (before 1675). Then, after she bears Peter at least three children, she becomes a widow a second time.

We will most likely never know for sure the real background of the strange name “Wöweken” or whether she was truly Lorenz von Werdenhof’s daughter or not. But thanks to these photographs, we can now be certain that Anna Elisabeth von Werdenhof was Peter Christoph’s dearly beloved wife.


Complete transcription of the baptism entry.

den 25. Septembris s. X getauft welche den 23. d. X 3/4 auf 4 Uhr frühe gebohren. Filia Anna Pater, H. Andreas Meyer, AmbtM. allhier, Mater, Catharina Elisabeth, gebohrene Krügerin, Patrizi (?), Jungfer Anna von der Liedt, Klosterjungfrau allhier, Fr. Anna Elisabeth Wienecken, gebohrene von Werdenhoffen, H. AmbtM zu Beederkesa Eheliebste, H. Buko (?) Eibsten (?), Voigt zu Ding (?), im Lande Wursten

And a translation:

baptised the 25th of September, born on the 23rd at 3/4 of 4 o’clock: a daughter Anna Father, Master Andreas Meyer, local bailiff, Mother, Catharina Elisabeth, maiden name Krüger, Godparents, Miss Anna von der Liedt, from the local convent, Mistress Anna Elisabeth Wienecken, née von Werdenhof, dearly beloved wife of the bailiff in Bederkesa, Master Buko (?) Eibsten (?), reeve in Ding (?), in the region of Wursten

Neuenwalde Kirchenbuch 1683  both pages

From parish register Neuenwalde. Photograph kindly provided by Pastor Joachim Köhler.

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Theodore Schwan

I would like to introduce someone who saw a lot of involvement in quite a number of significant American military happenings in the second half of the 19th century. He was not a Wyneken descendant, but there is a very close Wyneken connection.

Theodore Schwan was born in Germany in 1841, emigrated to the US in 1857 shortly before he turned 16. He enrolled in the US army as a private, less than two weeks after he arrived in the country. After a very distinguished career in the army, he retired in 1901 and was possibly living in Washington, D.C. when he died in 1926.

The Wyneken connection

Theodore Schwan himself was not a Wyneken descendant, but his half brother was: Heinrich Schwan (1819-1905), older than Theodore by 22 years. Their father was Pastor Georg Schwan (1788-1869). Georg’s first wife was Charlotte Wyneken (1799-1834), and Heinrich was their first child. When Charlotte died, Georg remarried. His second wife, Dorette Polemann (1806-1848), was Theodore Schwan’s mother.

Charlotte is thus the Wyneken connection in this story. She also happens to be very closely related to the two American branches of the Wyneken family, as she was the older sister of Carl and FCD Wyneken, from whom most of the American Wynekens descend.

Heinrich Schwan, like his Uncle Fritz (FCD) before him, became president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. FCD was the second president, being the successor of CFW Walther who played a huge role in founding the Synod. FCD was followed in office again by CFW Walther, who was thus the first and third president. Heinrich Schwan succeeded CFW Walther, becoming at one and the same time the third and fourth president of the Synod, depending on whether you count terms in office or individual people.

By the way, Heinrich Schwan is credited with being the first pastor to set up a Christmas tree in an American church building.

Theodore Schwan’s military career

theodore-schwan-2As mentioned earlier, Theodore enlisted in the army as a private in 1857 very shortly after he entered the United States, and served on the Union side in the Civil War, rising to the rank of First Lieutenant in 1864. He received the Medal of Honor for rescuing the life of a wounded officer at the battle of Peebles Farm, Virginia in 1864.

Through the years he continued to be promoted and rise in rank. He served in the Indian wars in Texas and later in the Dakota Territories during the Great Sioux War of 1876-77. It seems that he took part in a mission that went to the site of the Battle of the Little Bighorn almost a year after General Custer was defeated there. The goal of the mission was to recover the bodies of the fallen American soldiers.

He was attached to the US Embassy in Berlin in 1892-93.

At the start of the Spanish-American War in 1898 he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers and colonel in the Regular Army. (He was one of the only foreign born generals in this war.) He saw action in Puerto Rico and his troops were allegedly involved in the first game of baseball played in Puerto Rico.

After the fighting was over in Puerto Rico, Schwan was transferred to the Philippines where he became chief-of-staff of the Eighth Army Corps. The Philippines had just declared their independence from Spain in 1898. The treaty ending the Spanish-American War ceded the Philippines to the US but the Filipinos wanted to be completely independent so they immediately rose up against their new colonial masters. The Americans succeeded in crushing the rebellion. Schwan played an important role in the military action to pacify Cavite, the region just south of Manila, in 1899 and 1900.

He retired from the army in 1901 and was made a Major General of Regulars. He died in 1926 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Final thoughts

I find it intriguing that this one person was somehow involved in so many significant events that are part of the American historical consciousness:

  • immigration from the Old Country
  • Civil War
  • fighting Indians in the Old West — even a remote connection to Custer’s famous last stand
  • Spanish-American war in Puerto Rico — shades of Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders
  • quashing nascent Philippine independence — particularly close to my own personal history since I was born within 30 miles of where his campaigns were

Much of the above information can be found at the following sites:

Riding the coattails of fame

There aren’t many Wynekens you can really call “famous”.

Actually, to tell the complete truth — there aren’t any.

Some might be kind of well known in certain circles, or at a certain time and place in history. For example there are:

  • FCD Wyneken (1810-1876), who has a fair amount of renown amongst Missouri Synod Lutherans
  • Alexander Wyneken (1848-1939), a journalist and newspaper publisher in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad)
  • Gustav Wyneken (1875-1964), an influential educator in his time, whose name might still be known amongst some German educators
The German Wikipedia lists these three as well as a few others.
 

Otherwise we Wynekens tend to approach fame by hanging on to the coattails of someone else. For example:

  • The mother-in-law of the famous mathematician, Carl Friedrich Gauß, was a Wyneken.
  • My Wyneken grandfather’s Wyneken grandfather married the first cousin twice removed of the famous German poet Friedrich Schiller, who, among other things, wrote the poem “Ode to Joy” that is sung in the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. (That’s a very, very long coattail to Schiller. And an even longer one to Beethoven!!)

The reason I mention all this is that I just recently ran into another Wyneken with a coattail relationship to fame. The “famous” person in question is Matthias Claudius (1740-1815), a German poet and journalist (pictured above). I must admit that I had never heard of him before, but I am certainly familiar with one of his poems because it is a popular children’s song in Germany, “Der Mond ist aufgegangen” (“The moon has risen”). You can find the German lyrics and an English translation in the Internet.

The Wyneken in question was Mathilde Wyneken (1843-1886), who married Adolph Ernst Nicolaus Claudius (1834-1893), one of Matthias Claudius’ grandsons.

As this is, I admit, not particularly impressive, let me just paraphrase the old adage: Some are born to fame, some have fame thrust upon them, and some merely ride the coattails of the famous.

Are the Wynekens dying out?

rip_graveI must admit that every once in a while I get to thinking that it won’t be much longer and the Wyneken name will have died out. I go through in my mind the list of young Wyneken males that can conceivably father sons to pass on the family name, and I see a problem coming.

Granted, the fact that the last name is traditionally passed on in the male line reflects a strongly patriarchal system. I don’t really want to get into a discussion about whether this is good or bad, or what can be done to change it. That is, however, currently the way last names are generally passed on, although I am aware of at least a few exceptions. I know of at least one Wyneken mother who has passed on her last name to her child. I also think I know of at least one Wyneken father whose child’s last name is the mother’s. And I suspect there are more examples of the latter case, too.


But back to the question at hand. Is the family name “Wyneken” soon going to disappear?  I have heard from a few sources that people have thought so in the past.

There’s an elderly gentleman living in the north of Germany right now named Wyneken Fimmen. His mother had some sisters but only one surviving brother. This brother only had one child, a daughter. I have been told that the reason they gave Wyneken his first name was that they were convinced that the family name would soon disappear. Wyneken Fimmen also passed on his first name to his son. This younger Wyneken and his wife named their son Beat Wyneken, but Beat’s last name is his mother’s.

I have also heard that another branch of the family at the beginning of the 20th century believed that the name was on the way out so they used “Wyneken” as one of their son’s names: Adelhard Karl Hans Wyneken Kobus (1909-?). It turned out that he preferred the last of his first names so he went by “Wyneken Kobus”. His son was named “Fritz Wyneken Gerhard” (1939-?), but he chose to go by “Gerhard”.

In a corner of the family very close to Wyneken Kobus we also find Carl Wyneken Roscher (1852-1924). I don’t know the background of why his parents chose to give him that name, as that was really quite a long while ago.

A lot more recently and across the Atlantic in the US we find Henry Wyneken Kossmann (1906-1973) and his son Kenneth Wyneken Kossmann (1940-?). The Kossmanns actually knew quite a number of Wyneken relatives so I suspect they actually weren’t all that worried about the name dying out.

Then there’s Thomas Wyneken Meyer (1947-1988). He was part of the Michigan branch of the Wyneken family, represented by six sisters and their descendants. At least a few of these sisters were very interested in the family history so I’m sure that they were aware that there were still plenty of Wynekens around. Thus my guess is that this name was probably chosen to honor the name rather than to preserve it.

And then finally we have Chloe Wyneken Pearce (2001-) whose middle name apparenlty honors her great grandmother, Pauline Neeb nee Wyneken. Chloe is from the branch of the Wyneken family that, for example, the Edmund and Hugo Wyneken extended families belong to.


Again, back to the question at hand: Are we soon going to run out of Wynekens? Some people in the past have thought so, others apparently were so fond of the name that they used it as a first or middle name, although we don’t know if they were afraid it was disappearing. I decided to look into my database to see what the situation looks like.

I believe my database is basically complete when it comes to Wyneken family members alive today. The database tells me that there are 68 men in existence today with the last name “Wyneken”.

My first reaction was that that’s not very many, but then, using the database, I tried to estimate how many male Wynekens were living at various other times. That was not as easy to determine as the modern day number because I don’t have dates of birth and/or death for everybody in the database, but here are the numbers I came up with:

Year Number of male Wynekens
1950 50
1940 54
1930 56
1920 53
1910 53
1900 49
1850 36
1800 11

Thus, it looks like the number of male Wynekens has remained relatively constant since the end of the 19th century.

Of course, the likelihood of a man becoming a father diminishes with age so not all of these men “count” when it comes to keeping the name alive. The following table shows the results of a search in the database for today’s potential fathers of future Wynekens. The first column is the age in years and the second column shows how many male Wynekens are that age or younger:

Age “X” Number Wynekens “X” years old or younger
40 19
30 17
20 10
10 2

I don’t think that looks really too bad, but since I’m not an expert in population growth I still can’t say for sure.


So there you have it. A lot of words, some numbers, and in the end I still can’t really tell you whether the name is in danger of extinction or not. I’ve done my part — I’ve got a son and two daughters. Whether they choose to keep the name going is up to them.

A pleasant visit from a California relative

On the second Sunday in June I went down to the train station here in Freiburg to meet up with two people. The people I was meeting were Mary Ann Wood née Schaller and her husband Don from California. They were finishing off the German part of their mixed business and pleasure trip before they headed off to their final stop in Paris. We had a little trouble finding each other at the station but in the end the connection worked.

They were staying at the hotel right next to the train station so I accompanied them there. I asked them if they were interested in me giving them a bit of a foot tour of the sites in Freiburg and they said, yes, they’d love to. I showed them what I thought were the highlights of the town. We talked about this and that while we walked: the Wyneken relatives we knew, our work, music, architecture. It was all very easy going, natural and fun.

We walked around town together for maybe two hours or more. Then we hopped on the street car to my home so they could meet the rest of my family. There we continued our chat, and Don and my wife, Cindy, were tickled to discover that they had something in common professionally. Much too soon after we had finished our simple dinner our visit had to come to an end because it was time for our youngest daughter to go to bed. So I accompanied them back to the street car stop so they could go back to their hotel.

It was a great pleasure for me to talk to a Wyneken relative who knew and had met personally numerous relatives that I only know by name from my research. But it turned out that she also knows people from my direct family. When she talked about meeting the family of a Wyneken missionary to India when she was a child, I informed her that that was my grandfather and his family. She remembered that most of the boys — including my father — were a few years older than she was. At that early age those few years make a huge difference so they didn’t really have much to do with each other, but she does remember fondly the youngest child, my aunt.

Dot Bonavito 1943

Dot Bonavito in 1943

Another person we talked about in depth was her cousin, Dot Bonavito, with whom I had corresponded may years ago. Dot led a highly interesting life, having entered the foreign service shortly after World War II. I really know only a very few details of everything she experienced, which is why I highly regret never having had the opportunity to meet her in person. Mary Ann, on the other hand, knew her cousin very well and often visited her at her home in Paris.

Dot has an interesting pedigree. Dot’s father, Mary Ann’s uncle, was a son of FCD Wyneken’s youngest daughter, Pauline, and Dot’s mother was a granddaughter of FCD Wyneken’s oldest daughter, Louise Buehler in San Francisco. Thus, Dot is at the same time FCD’s granddaughter and his great granddaughter.

Through Dot’s relationship to the California Wyneken relatives descended from Louise Buehler, Mary Ann had opportunity to meet and know the Koenigs, the Tietjens and the Hargens. Living in California herself, Mary Ann throughout the years has met many of the California Wynekens descended from the twin brothers, Martin (including, as mentioned above, my grandfather and my father) and Henry. She also knew the Brohms, who were closely related to Martin’s wife.

As I mentioned above, this is a large group of Wyneken relatives that I either know personally or am closely related to, or with whom I am very familiar through my research. And here I was talking to single person who has met all of these people personally. My genealogist heart couldn’t help but think that this get-together with Mary Ann was very significant.

A Wyneken and a king

Carl Johann Conrad Wyneken, 1763-1825 (not pictured at the top of this page) was one of the many Lutheran pastors that have come from the Wyneken family.

In the course of his career as a pastor, Carl Johann Conrad served in at least six different churches in various towns or cities in what was to become the Kingdom of Hanover. Towards the end of his career he was a member of the consistory, the administrative body in the Lutheran church hierarchy. In 1819 he started what was to be his final post as second pastor at the Schlosskirche (“Castle Church”) in Hanover, the capitol city of the kingdom.

The Schlosskirche was the church for the court in Hanover. Hanover was the capitol of the Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, which later became the Kingdom of Hanover. The ruling dynasty in Hanover, no matter what the realm was called, was the House of Hanover.

By the time Carl Wyneken served in the Schlosskirche in Hanover, the reigning monarch was George III, from the House of Hanover (pictured at the top of this page). George III reigned from 1760 to 1820, first as prince elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg, after 1814 as king of the Kingdom of Hanover.

At first sight this might seem an interesting — or maybe not-so-interesting — bit of historical trivia. However, in 1714 the course of history had made the House of Hanover also the monarchs of Great Britain and Ireland. Thus this George III of Hanover was (at the same time) none other than King George III of Great Britain that American high school history classes know as the dreadful tyrant whose yoke the founding fathers wanted to cast off.

Much can be said about George III above and beyond his role as monarch during the American Revolution, but we will not touch on that in this post. What concerns us here is that George III died in 1820, a year after Carl Johann Conrad Wyneken assumed his post as court chaplain in Hanover. Even if George III had ever visited Hanover, which he hadn’t, he certainly would not have been able to do that in the last years of his life as he was very ill. Thus Carl Wyneken never had anything to do with him personally. Nevertheless it became Carl’s job, perhaps as the junior partner in his new church, to perform the official eulogy in the memorial service for his sovereign. This sermon appeared in printed form with the title:

Gedächtniß-Predigt bei dem am 29sten Januar 1820 erfolgten tödtlichen Hintritte Sr. Mai. Königs von Großbrit. und Hannover u. Georg des Dritten: in der Schloßkirche zu Hannover am Sonntage Quinquagesimä

In English that’s:

Memorial sermon on the occasion of His Majesty the King of Great Britain and Hanover George the Third’s mortal departure on the 29th of January 1820: In the Schlosskirche in Hanover on Quinquagesima Sunday

This publication is listed in online library catalogs. I must admit that I haven’t made the effort to see if I can get a copy of the 24 page long publication by interlibrary loan. Still, I find it noteworthy that it was a Wyneken who bid farewell to George III from the pulpit in George’s “home” church back in Germany.


The painting at the top of this page is kindly provided under a Creative Commons License by the National Portrait Gallery in London: King George IIIstudio of Sir William Beechey, oil on canvas, circa 1800 (1799-1800) – NPG 6250


Family connections

Several of Carl Johann Conrad’s descendants are noteworthy for various reasons, but for this post I will only mention his grandson, Alexander Wyneken, who was an influential newspaper publisher in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century. Several of Alexander’s descendants are living in Germany to this day.

Carl was also closely related – an uncle to be precise – to the Wyneken brothers, two of whom founded the branches of the Wyneken family found today in the US: Carl, the oldest, and the youngest brother FCD. The middle brother, Gustav’s, descendants are also still alive and well in Germany. Their father, Heinrich Christoph, like Carl Johann Conrad, was a pastor in the kingdom of Hanover, and because they didn’t live all that far away from each other, I can imagine that Carl, Gustav, and Fritz knew their Uncle Carl personally. FCD was the youngest of the three brothers and he was 15 when his uncle died; Carl, the oldest, was already 22.

And finally, Carl was a first cousin of Hinrich Christoph Carl Wyneken, the founder of the branch of the family most of the other Wynekens descend from.

A Wyneken “hair picture”

The other day I received an interesting picture from our distant relative, Mary Ann Wood née Schaller. She described it to me as follows:

This was a popular way of showing off your family in Victorian times. The cross in the middle is FCD Wyneken and the bible is his wife Sophie Wyneken née Buuck. The wreath is made from the hair of the thirteen children. It is oval in a rectangular frame. It is a family treasure. It needs restoration but I am not sure where to find that type of expert.

I looked in the Internet for “hair picture” and found this explanation: http://www.victoriangothic.org/the-lost-art-of-sentimental-hairwork/
Wyneken-hair-picture.JPG

Diary from the end of World War II

NOTE: I’m not sure what happened here. I thought I published the following posting in my old blog. It was probably on May 25, 2015. However, it doesn’t look like it made it to the new – WordPress – blog. Did I maybe overlook it when I copied everything over? In any event, here it is again. Better late than never.


In September of 2014 I posted a picture of Karl Wyneken in the Facebook group “World Wide WyneKarl-Wyneken.jpgkens” as a prisoner of war after World War I. Karl Wyneken was a young German soldier who spent some years in a French prisoner of war camp. At the time I posted the picture, I mentioned that Karl’s grandson, David, an Englishman, was having Karl’s World War I and World War II diaries translated into English.

David recently sent me the first translated diary, covering the time between April 4, 1945 and June 28, 1950. At the start of the diary, Karl is awaiting the arrival of allied troops in Göttingen, the university town Karl was living in. Karl had lost his job as a teacher because of his anti Nazi sentiments. He was obviously glad that the Nazi regime seemed to be coming to an end, but at the same time he couldn’t imagine that life would be pleasant under the heel of the invading powers.

The Americans, with their impressive tanks, were the first to arrive. Karl and his family were forced to move out of their flat because the liberators needed someplace to house themselves. Karl expected the worst … But read for yourself how things turned out.

I found it very interesting to read Karl’s critical opinions of the Nazi government but also of the Allies. Most of his pessimistic expectations did not come to pass, but that doesn’t mean that he and his family, along with the rest of his beloved German Fatherland, didn’t have rough times to go through. Now, 70 years later, we know how things turned out. But at that time, he had no idea.

As the diary progresses, he writes less and less frequently. His last entry is from 1950 at the outbreak of the Korean War. He saw this as the beginning of the World War III that he had prophesied a number of times earlier in the diary.

Possible Swedish ancestors after all

There is a long held and often cherished belief that the Wynekens originally came from Sweden. My cousin Nick, for example, was very disappointed when he found out from me many years ago that we probably are not descended from vikings. He has always been extremely proud of that, and from what I gather is still somewhat obsessed by the vikings despite my claim that they have nothing to do with us.

I have some tentatively good news for Nick, though. My database shows that Peter Christoph Wyneken (lived from 1644 to 1683/1684), my 7G grandfather (that’s seven “greats” in front of “grandfather”), was married to Anna Elisabeth von Werdenhoff. Anna is the daughter of Lorenz von Werdenhoff, one of three brothers who were born in Bremen, Germany but were recruited by the Swedish crown to gain possession of and administer three estates in Ingermanland, English Ingria. The only stipulation they was that they were to take along enough German workers and peasants to take care of the property and make it profitable.

Werdenhoff crest

The Werdenhoff crest

The three brothers were knighted by the Swedish crown in 1652 and in 1675 their names were added to the official rolls of the Swedish nobility in the riddarhus in Stockholm.

Now, when I first heard this story I assumed that Ingria was part of Sweden. When I looked it up, was surprised to discover that even though it once belonged to the Swedish crown, it is not even located on the Scandinavian peninsula. As a matter of fact, it is located in an area that is now part of Russia, more familiar to us as the region around St. Petersburg.

Now, the von Werdenhoffs were German, so where does actual Swedish blood enter our veins? The answer is that Lorenz von Werdenhoff’s wife was Catharina Åkerfelt, daughter of a true Swedish family with an actual Swedish name. The above mentioned rolls of the Swedish nobility list a tidy bit of her family starting around 1600 and including descendants up through the 1800s.

So, if Peter Christoph Wyneken’s wife truly was Anna Elisabeth von Werdenhoff, she introduced Scandinavian blood into the Wyneken family by way of her mother. My cousin Nick could realistically go back to believing that some of Anna’s ancestors took turns rowing oars in viking ships. And as Peter and Anna are ancestors of all currently living Wynekens, this could be said for all of us.

Unfortunately … It is not completely certain that the Anna who was married to Peter Christoph really was Anna Elisabeth von Werdenhoff. Maybe it was a completely different Anna. I still need to look closer at my sources for this information to see how plausible the connection is.

Stay tuned …

Big changes in the Wyneken information sites

I have closed down my previous blog at http://wyneken-genealogy.blogspot.de/ and the site at http://top10.physik.uni-freiburg.de/~mpw/Wynekens/ that used to contain my Wyneken Genealogy information.

The blog and the informational site have been replaced by

https://wyneken.wordpress.com

I was unable to move the actual family database areas to the new site so they are still physically located on top10. There are, of course, links to these databases on the new site.

I decided to make this move in order to consolidate everything in one place and also to update the appearance of the site to a more modern look.

I hope you enjoy the new website. It is possible to leave comments on almost all of the new pages. Just look for the “Leave a reply” links. I’d love to hear from you!

The role of one Wyneken at the outbreak of World War I

In the Facebook group “Wynekens World-Wide” I recently posted a link to the Google English translation version of the Russian Wikipedia article for “Wyneken”.

Background information: There was a George von Wyneken who emigrated to St. Petersburg in the 19th century to join his Stieglitz relative in the Russian bank business. George and his three children are the topic of the Wikipedia article.

I showed the Google translation of the article to my Russian colleague at work and asked him to correct the inaccuracies in the translation, which he did. He was intrigued by the fact that I had relatives, regardless of how distant, in Russia and he kept on following links to see what he could find.

He called me over to look at the article about George’s son, Alexander. He pointed out the photograph of a telegram shown on the page and translated it for me.  I’m very glad he did because I found it a very interesting footnote in Wyneken history.

It turns out that Alexander was some sort of attaché or envoy in Vienna, there as a representative of the government of the Russian czar. The transcript of the telegram says that the original was encrypted and that this was the decrypted version. In this telegram Alexander reports back to St. Petersburg that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo.

Thus, it seems that it was a Wyneken who informed the Russian court of the assassination that triggered the outbreak of World War I.

Dispatch from Viena. Sender: colonel barron AGVineken, Russian military agent in Austro-Hungary.  June 28, 1914. Text: “This morning in Sarajevo, the heir to the throne and his wife were slain by shots from a revolver. The assassins speak Serbian. No: 205. Vineken”

19th Century Wyneken Family Tree

Link to the scanned tree

Around 1997 or 1998 I visited Dick Wyneken in Ripon, California during one of my trips to the US to visit my parents. In the course of our conversation he mentioned that he had a long roll containing an extensive family tree in German. His grandfather, Herman Wyneken, had received it from his German relative, Luise Wyneken. Luise’s father, Ernst Friedrich Wyneken, and Herman were first cousins so the relationship was actually very close.

Dick took me home with him so he could show me this family tree. It was on old, yellowed paper and stored in a cardboard cylinder for protection. The cylinder still held the address label showing Luise’s address as Friedlandweg 7 in Göttingen and Herman’s address as North Orange Street 42F in Orange, California. Unfortunately there is no date on the label.

At the end of our visit Dick surprised me by offering to give me the cylinder and its contents. His reasoning was that he was getting old and didn’t know anybody who would really appreciate receiving the tree. As I was interested in the family history, I could make good use of the tree and it just made sense to him that I should have it. Needless to say I was thrilled by Dick’s most generous offer, which after a bit of hesitation I gladly accepted.

Now, about 15 years later, I figured it is a good idea to scan the whole roll electronically in order to be able to share this wonderful resource with relatives on the Internet and also to have a copy of it in case it ever gets damaged or destroyed. The paper the tree is written on is about 38 cm / 15 inches high. It is very brittle and I hesitate to unroll it too often to consult details because I’m afraid of damaging it. For that reason I have not measured the length of the roll but, based on the dimensions of the scanned copy and my knowledge of the height of the paper, I estimate that the complete roll is about 386 cm / 152 inches long. That is about 12 feet and 8 inches. That’s a lot of Wynekens!

I know that Luise’s nephew, Wyneken Fimmen, has a copy of this tree. I also believe that Helen Wyneken in Michigan possesses one or at least had access to one because she used it to make an English version of the tree. I believe she did that work in 1974. From Norma Wacker, one of my earliest sources of Wyneken information, I received a negative photocopy of the same tree in which the writing is in white and the paper in black. Perhaps Norma’s family still owns the original. I wouldn’t be surprised if there other copies of the tree still in existence.

Still, this tree is a very valuable and historical resource for the Wyneken family history and I can only urge interested readers of this blog to download copies of the scanned versions posted here to store electronically on their computers. The more copies that exist, the greater the chance that researchers in the future will have access to one.

Notes about the download page:

  • The scans are very large, much larger than a computer screen. I’ve tried to set it up so that you can have a good look at the individual pictures but it might not be obvious how the page is to be worked. There is a “Help” link at the bottom of the page that I hope will be of some assistance. The download icon is towards the top of each page that depicts a single picture, to the right of the description text. If you have problems dealing with the pages, get back to me and I’ll try to help.
  • While putting the final touches on this posting I noticed that some errors sneaked into the pictures of the tree. I had to compile the complete tree out of a large number of different photographs I took and then sewed it together using a program. There are a few spots where I apparently didn’t get it quite right and you can see that there are lines that are supposed to be continuos that show up in the photographs as interrupted lines. I find that very annoying and I hope I will get a chance to correct it sometime, but I have no idea when I’ll be able to get around to it. … Maybe never.

Luise Wyneken

From the address label we know a bit about how my copy of the tree made it’s way across the Atlantic, namely from Luise Wyneken. As a matter of fact, I am quite sure that all of the American copies I mentioned were sent over by Luise.

Luise Wyneken

Luise was a remarkable person. She was a home economics teacher and the head of a home economics school. It might be fair to say that she was an early-day feminist. As a point in case, at one point she decided she wanted to see what life was like in the US so she booked passage on a steamer and crossed the ocean by herself. She worked as a maid and cook in households on the east coast from 1923 to 1925. Towards the end of her stay she decided she wanted to see the rest of the country, too, so she set off to hitchhike — unaccompanied — across the continent, on the way visiting relatives she knew about. On this trip she met cousins in Chicago, Fort Wayne, Texas, southern California and San Francisco. She kept a diary of her time in the US, including the hitchhiking trip, which is quite an interesting read.

It seems logical that she told the relatives she visited about the tree her father had drawn up, extra copies of which the family probably still had back at home in Germany, so when she got back she mailed copies over to her American relatives. One of these relatives was Herman Wyneken in Orange County, California, by way of whom I eventually received “my” copy.

Author and date of the family tree

4e092-ernstfriedrich

Ernst Friedrich Wyneken

According to information from the present day descendants of Luise’s father, Ernst Friedrich Wyneken, the tree is the product of his research.

This particular copy of the tree also appears to have been kept in his family’s possession at first because you can see that entries for later additions to the family and to his brother’s family have been added. These can be found on the left side of the fourth of my four scans. Some of the additions seem to be in a different hand, some of them are not as neat as the original entries.

The entries for Ernst Friedrich’s first two children, Gustav Adolph (born 1875) and Elisabeth (born 1876) look like they are part of the original version. His later children, Luise (1878), Karl, Ernst and Hilda, were obviously added later.  It is also interesting to note that someone continued to add names from even later generations of Ernst Friedrich’s descendants. The names Ruth, Wyneken, Bärbel, Ernst Ihno and Renate, for example, denote people whom I have met personally and who are mostly still alive today.

The first four children in the family of Ernst’s brother, Carl — the one born through 1877 — are written very neatly whereas the later ones were written in less carefully.

At the very right edge of this scan you can see where Herman and his family added their own names, as well, after the tree had been sent to California.

The dates in the “original” entries mentioned in the previous two paragraphs and the dates for the other persons on the bottom edge of the tree seem to indicate that the tree was drawn up in about 1877.

I possess two copies of a letter written by Ernst Friedrich in December of 1877 in which he requests current information about the families of the people he wrote. This letter was accompanied by a version of the family tree. It is unclear whether this was an earlier version or whether the letter is referring to copies of the same version I now have in my possession. Based on these hints, however, it seems safe to conjecture that the original entries on all of the trees in existence reflect the information Ernst Friedrich had compiled by approximately 1877.

Another interesting question is how all of these trees were produced. Did someone sit down and write each and every one of them separately by hand? Or was there some sort of technology available at the time to make duplicates? I did a bit of research and discovered that the hectograph technology had been invented in 1869. Perhaps Ernst Friedrich made use of this new high tech means of reproducing his trees? I don’t know enough about hectographs, though, to be able to judge whether the tree I have might have been duplicated that way. If so, he was using the cutting edge of technology of his time to further Wyneken family research, just as I use the Internet, today’s cutting edge.

The Wyneken manor in Rüstje

Those familiar with my family history work might be familiar with the two major branches of the family that I refer to: the Rüstje branch and the Bederkesa branch. These names are based on the places in Northern Germany where the members of these two branches lived in the 1700s. The modern day Wynekens from the Rüstje branch are:

Rüstje

Rüstje

  • the German Wynekens descended from Gerhard Wyneken, who was a doctor in Essen, and his wife, Margarethe Bollinger
  • the Spanish Wynekens and their descendants
  • the Chilean Wynekens and their descendants
Matthew and Ulla

Matthew and Ulla

Back in around 1998, I think it was, I was fortunate to meet a member of the Chilean branch in person when Ursula “Ulla” Wyneken was in Germany doing research at the university in Magdeburg. We got together several times during her stay. One time we decided to pay a trip to where our family all began, to Stade. While there we thought it would be a good idea to see if there were any traces left of Rüstje, the place her ancestors had lived. While doing the research we discovered that there is a forester’s lodge there now. I remember being very excited to find out that there is an actual phone number at Rüstje.

Matthew at Rüstje

Matthew at Rüstje

The day that Ulla and I spent in the area we first took a look at the former Hanseatic city of Stade, where the very first Wynekens are recorded. Then we drove the 15 minutes to the nearby village of Helmste to try to find the forester’s lodge at Rüstje. We were successful! We rang the doorbell and were greeted by Herr Martin Seidel, the forester, and his wife. After I explained who we were and why we were there, they became almost as excited as were were to rediscover this old family link. They were kind enough to invite us inside and we had a very nice visit for an hour or so.

When I remembered this archaeological find recently, about 16 years after Ulla and I were there, I realized that maybe some of the German speaking members of the Rüstje branch that I am in touch with might be interested in this information. I wrote Herr Seidel by e-mail, hoping that he was still at Rüstje after all these years. He responded right away saying that of course he remembers our visit to their lodge. I asked him for copies of any articles he might be aware of that discuss the archaeological findings on his property. He sent me me scans of what he has and I am posting two of these articles on my website. Unfortunately, the articles are only in German.

Seidels and Wynekens

Seidels and Wynekens

During our chat, the Seidels mentioned that there had been some archaeological work done at Rüstje and that the work had uncovered the remains of an old building. They took us out to the spot, very close by to the lodge, and showed us. It was a very exciting feeling for me to realize that I was right there on the ground and possibly within the borders of the actual house where Ulla’s ancestors had been born, spent their childhood, played and grown up. The Seidels showed us an article describing the archaeological findings that had been uncovered.

The article Mittelalterliche und neuzeitliche Besiedlungsspuren in Rustje by Susann Busching discusses the excavation work that took place in 1991.

Then there is an excerpt from Sagen aus dem Lande zwischen Niederelbe und Niederweser by Hans Wohltmann. This is a book of stories related by people from the general geographical area where Rüstje is located. It contains two stories about the proud owner of the manor at Rüstje whose name was Wyneken. This Wyneken does not appear in the story in a very favorable light or as a very likable person. That of course is not at all surprising, if for no other reason than because the stories are told by Wyneken’s tenants.  We all know how likable Wynekens are … In any event, the stories are over 200 years old so none of us modern day Wynekens need to take the stories personally.

Get-together with the Spanish branch

At the beginning of August I received an e-mail message from Eduard Cabré Serrano who lives in a town outside of Tarragona, Spain. He introduced himself as a Wyneken descendant. I looked him up in my database but he had to give me a few more details before I could pinpoint where he fits into the family tree. I located the relationship, though.

Eduard himself has set up his own family tree in the Internet that is only visible to people he invites to participate. He invited me to join. When I logged in I saw that he had gathered all sorts of information about the various parts of his Spanish families and relatives. I knew about some of them but he, of course, has a lot more details.

I also saw that he has gathered some information about parts of the Wyneken family tree, especially those branches that are closely related to the Spanish branch. He of course is particularly interested in the branch that Erika Wyneken in Germany belongs to, as many years ago Erika visited her Spanish relatives in person. I have heard that all involved have very fond memories of that reunion.

I entered my own information into the website Eduard uses and all my direct ancestors up to my great great grandfather, who Eduard had already added to his information. Because I place utmost importance on keeping the information that people share with me confidential, this will be all the information I will add. The data I share on my web page — currently with a cut-off date of around 1900 — is, of course, all publicly available but otherwise all the data I’ve gathered will never be published on the Internet.

Eduard, Matthew and Maria

Eduard, Matthew and Maria

Last Monday at 7 p.m. was the appointed time so I went to Martinsbräu after work to meet them. We didn’t see each other at first but then we caught sight of each other. After some questioning looks we mutually decided that we had found the persons we were looking for. We went inside together and sat down at one of the long wooden tables. Eduard immediately pulled out a cardboard tube and extracted from it a very long, rolled up family tree he had printed out at home. We sat for a while poring over it together, he pointing out some of the highlights of his Spanish family connections and I locating the position on his tree where my branch of the Wyneken family starts.Anyway, it just so happened that Eduard and his wife Maria were planning a trip to Germany. He asked if it would be possible to meet somewhere in Freiburg so we could sit down and chat. I suggested we meet at Martinsbräu in Freiburg because it serves typical German food and good German beer, and he agreed.

We discussed some of the connections the Spanish Wynekens have with their nearest relatives in Germany. I was aware of the fact that Erika Wyneken once paid at least one visit to her Spanish relatives back a number of decades ago, during which, she has told me, her hosts were very open and hospitable and she remembers that trip with great fondness. — Just today I learned that Erika’s sister, Ruth, has also visited her Spanish relatives. — Amongt the many pictures Eduard and Maria showed me on the tablet computer they had brought with them were also some of Dieter Schulte and family, another person from this branch of the German Wynekens that I was in contact with quite a while ago. During our correspondence Herr Schulte told me of the visits back and forth between Germany and Spain that the relatives had paid each other.

At some point or other the waiter was able to break us away from our discussion so that we could order our meals. I recommended the meter long Bratwurst and the Schnitzel. They followed my suggestion while I ordered the large salad with mushrooms and turkey strips.

After our order was taken, Eduard pulled out two paper bags and told me that he had brought me some presents. I was very pleased to recognize a bottle of cava, Spanish sparkling wine, as well as a bottle of bath oil out of olive oil for my wife. Then he pulled a bunch of colorful, strangely shaped strings out and presented them to me proudly. I must admit that I didn’t recognize what they might be but he gladly cleared up my confusion. They are a new kind of specially patented shoelace! The knobs visible in the photograph flatten out when you pull on either end of the lace so that they can be threaded through the holes in the shoes, but then when you let go of the lace again the knots return and keep the laces from slipping. Thus, when you use these shoelaces you don’t even need to tie your shoes. It is quite an ingenious idea! I had never thought that it would be possible to improve the design of shoelaces, but I was wrong. Eduard told me that the Cabré family runs a company that manufactures all sorts of cords and ropes.

As the restaurant was rather busy it took a while for our food to arrive. No problem, though, because we kept on talking about all sorts of things. We continued our lively discussion after we had eaten our meal, too. We covered many topics: our respective families, Catalonia and the Catalan people and language, Catalan and Spanish history, Franco and the Spanish civil war, the house of Bourbon. I found out that Eduard’s grandfather, Eduardo Serrano, had a relatively close family relationship to Generalissimo Franco: Franco’s wife had a sister; this sister was married to Ramón Serrano, who was Eduardo’s brother. Ramón was also an influential politician until he fell into disfavor.

Every get-together has to come to an end sometime. We finally left the restaurant shortly before 10 o’clock, but before we did Eduard extended an invitation from his mother. She had told him to tell me that I and my wife and family were very welcome to come visit in Spain and stay in a house she owns there. I told Eduard that we are very grateful for the invitation and that we might very well take her up on the offer, although as neither Cindy or I are particularly fond of warm weather we would probably have to arrange the trip for a cooler season.

We ended our evening together in front of the Martinstor city gate of Freiburg, me heading off for the tram and they heading off for the parking garage. I hope they enjoyed this little family reunion as much as I did.

Small family reunion of three Wyneken branches

On the 13th of September I was part of an historical event. For the first time in who knows how many years, descendants of the three Wyneken brothers Carl (1803-1867), Gustav (1805-1885) and Friedrich “FCD” (1810-1876) got together and chatted over lunch.

Matthew, Katja and Karl
I have been corresponding with Karl Wyneken from Fresno, California since at least 1996. He descends from the oldest of the 19th century Wyneken brothers, who were by the way all pastors, and is part of a line of Carls/Karls that started their American branch of the family in St. Louis when pastor Carl’s son, a banker, emigrated to St. Louis in 1866.
Carl Wyneken

Carl Wyneken

Karl is a treasure trove of family information and he has been very willing to share this information with me for my family research. Having grown up in Fort Wayne, Indiana he had many opportunities from early on to get to know the numerous members of the FCD branch of Wyneken that also lived there. As a retired pastor and archivist for the LCMS he has over the years learned a lot more about the Wyneken family history.

This was the first time that Karl had paid a visit to Germany since we have known each other and I was very pleased to be able to host him for a few days in Freiburg before he continued on for several weeks of travel in Germany and Italy. While he was in Freiburg, I thought it would only be appropriate that he and I have lunch with our distant relative, Katja.
Gustav Wyneken

Gustav Wyneken

Katja is a direct descendant of Gustav, the middle of the three 19th century brothers. Her grandmother’s maiden name was Wyneken. When this grandmother’s first son was born, she and her immediate family were under the impression that the Wyneken last name was dying out so they gave this son the first name “Wyneken”.

I, of course, am descended from FCD, the youngest of these brothers.

It’s interesting to note that, despite the difference in ages of the three Wyneken relatives sitting around our lunch table, it turns out that Karl and Katja are in the same generation. They are fourth cousins, meaning that they share a great great great grandfather, Heinrich Christoph Wyneken (1766-1815). I, on the other hand, am one generation further away from Heinrich Christoph, making me his great great great great grandson, and Karl and Katja are my fourth cousins once removed. It was bit strange that the oldest and youngest of our little trio are from the same generation whereas I am from a younger generation.

FCD Wyneken

We were fortunate that the weather was nice the day we met for lunch so we were able to sit outside. We, of course, talked a lot about what we know about the family history – Katja’s father is, himself, quite an expert in this field – but we also managed to talk about other things: our own interests and travels, politics, and our own families to name but a few. We wound up spending quite a long time together just chatting and getting to know each other.
When we stood up from the table all of us were unanimous in saying that we had enjoyed our visit and the time we spent together, reconnecting the branches of our family.

Finally, updated!

I finally updated the two on-line versions of my database:

https://wynekens.de/WynekenDatabase

and

https://wynekens.de/Wyneken-Klein

These new versions include all the changes and additions I have entered in the past few years. If you sent me any corrections, maybe you could check to see if they are now reflected in the online information.

You might notice that the presentation style is different from the previous version. I’m not all that sure I like the way this looks. The sources pages in particular are very poor.

I decided to go ahead and publish this version anyway rather than spend time fiddling around with the appearance. If I get enough complaints I will consider redoing the pages.

Loose Ends

San Francisco

In my last posting I mentioned the architect Leopold Ernest Wyneken in San Francisco who has no direct connection to any of the other American Wynekens. Interestingly, there was another man, Friedrich Alexander Wyneken, who lived in the San Francisco Bay area, having studied in Berkeley, California and working later in San Francisco.
I know exactly where Leopold fits in to the Wyneken family tree in Germany; Friedrich, on the other hand, is a loose leaf. My sources provide no information whatsoever about his parents or where he came from. The only thing I have to go by is his dissertation at the University of California at Berkeley dated 1912 and titled “Rousseaus Einfluss auf Klinger” (“Rousseau’s Influence on Klinger”). It is interesting to note that this work was written in German.  This comes as no surprise when one reads the “vita” he included with the thesis, a translation of which follows:
I received my primary, secondary and part of my college education in Germany and graduated from the University of California in 1906, after having attended that institution for one year and a half. A year later I received the degree of Master of Letters. I was also connected with the Department of German as an assistant from 1909 to 1912.
Research in the Internet provides some information concerning the year of his birth: The Library of Congress website gives the author’s birth year as 1866, and the 1920 federal census finds him in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania married to a woman named Gertrud. This census lists his age as 53, which is a good match for a birth year of 1866.
If we go by the information in Friedrich’s vita that he started his university studies in Germany and completed them in Berkeley, he might have been around 20 when he emigrated to the US. That would make the year of his emigration roughly 1886.
Leopold, on the other hand, applied for naturalization in 1886. At first glance, this would seem to be a good match. Perhaps Leopold brought his family, including his son Friedrich, across the Atlantic with him?
Unfortunately, this is all speculation. One of my sources states, for example, that according to one story Friedrich might have arrived in the United States in the 1860’s, which would make a father / son relationship between Friedrich and Leopold almost impossible. It is however unclear how true this claim may be. That would also pose the question why Leopold would have waited so long to become a US citizen? In 1886 he would have already been living in the country at least16 years.
I’m afraid it will take a stroke of good luck to find out more about Leopold’s immigration and to figure out who this mysterious Friedrich Wyneken in Berkeley and Philadelphia was.

The Wyneken Saber and a Cabaret Pianist

I have unfortunately been unable to come to a conclusion in finding the rightful owner of the saber I mentioned in an earlier post.
I believe I have located a descendant of Lieutenant Colonel Otto Gustav Felix Wyneken, the original owner of of the saber. Unfortunately, this woman is not particularly interested in my story. She seems to be concerned that I’m trying to pull off some kind of scam, and I can certainly understand that. I believe she’s the person I’m looking for but I’m afraid I’m going to have to give up on reuniting the saber with its rightful owners.
I might get back in touch with the elderly gentleman in Bavaria who currently possesses the saber to ask him whether he would be willing to pass it on to me for my own collection of Wyneken memorabilia. I doubt whether he will agree to that, however, but if by some chance he does, I will be sure to post about it.
In the meantime, though, just last week I chanced upon an interesting bit of trivia about Otto Wyneken’s youngest son, Wulff Joachim. The article in the German Wikipedia site about the musician Erich Einegg (1898-1966) claims that his birth name was Wulff Joachim Wyneken. My database lists the same birth date for Wulff as is given for Einegg, and in my notes I have listed that Wulff was studying music in Berlin in the mid-1920’s.
My database also has a note that Wulff was a retired lieutenant, but I’m beginning to wonder whether that might not be a mistake.
Einegg was apparently active in the cabaret scene and his name shows up quite a bit on the Internet because of the recordings for which he played piano. He also composed music, including the soundtrack for the postwar movie “Irgendwo in Berlin” (“Somewhere in Berlin”) from the year 1946 that depicted the life of German children in postwar Germany.
It just so happens that a Wyneken relative sent me a copy of this movie a number of years ago. I was under the incorrect impression that there was a Wyneken that appeared in the movie, but now I’m going to have to write my contact again to find out whether she realized that the music in the movie was possibly composed by a Wyneken.
I’m also going to have to research the claim that Erich Einegg was actually a stage name for Wulff Wyneken because the notes in the Wikipedia article are vague about where this information comes from.
Ah, research! That’s what genealogists love to do.

A Wyneken novel

A few months ago I read a novel by a Wyneken. I’m sure you’ve never heard of the novel, or of the author. The book is entitled Chronicles of Manuel Alanus: A True Story of Old San Francisco. The author’s name is L. (Leopold) Ernest Wyneken.
 
In this blog entry I present some background information about the author and a brief overview of the book.

L. Ernest Wyneken

Ernest was born in 1838. His father, Ludwig August Friedrich Wilhelm (1802-1887), was a magistrate in the Holstein region of northern Germany, so presumably that’s where Ernest was born. Here’s a link to Ernest on my Wyneken genealogy website:
 
 
There is one group of Wynekens descended from Ludwig August living in Germany today: Nikolaus Ernst-Axel Wyneken and his family. Back in the early 19th century this branch of the family was closely related to the branches that produced FCD Wyneken (i.e. most of the US Wynekens) and Alexander Wyneken in Königsberg.
 
Ernest emigrated to the United States and wound up in San Francisco. One of my correspondents informed me that Ernest had emigrated to the US by the early 1860’s but I have no independent confirmation of that. He became a US citizen in 1886.
 
Ernest was a partner in the architect firm of Townsend and Wyneken. I have read that there are three buildings built by this firmstill standing in San Francisco. In addition, at the intersection of Market, Geary and Kearney streets in downtown San Francisco there is a fountain, called “Lotta’s Fountain”, which is attributed to Townsend and Wyneken. It was originally a source of drinking water and was constructed in 1875 as a donation to the city of San Francisco from the highly popular and wealthy actress, Lotta Crabtree.
 
After the great San Francisco earthquake in 1906, Lotta’s Fountain served as a meeting place for people trying to rebuild their lives in the midst of the destruction:
 
The Internet references a further product from the firm Townsend and Wyneken – an aerial view of San Francisco from 1875:
 
 
It is said that Ernest Wyneken was an artist on the side and may have traveled up and down the West Coast on sailing ships drawing the ports and coast lines. The circumstances and years of his death are unknown but it is possible that he died in Santa Barbara.

Chronicles of Manuel Alanus

This book was published in 1908 in New York. Various versions can be downloaded on-line, for example from:
 
 
I read an OCRed version of the text because I did not realize there were scanned versions of the book available as PDF downloads. I recommend to anyone who wants to read the book to procure a scanned version because, in the version that I read, it is obvious that little or no editing took place after the OCR process converted the pages into text format. The processed text is certainly understandable but there are countless spots with obvious errors and a very small number of passages which are completely incomprehensible.
 
The story is about Manuel Alanus, a young man struggling to deal with the hardships fate has thrown his way. He lost his mother at an early age, and was later separated from his father, as well. The father’s brother is a wicked man who attempts to thwart his brother and nephew whenever he can. Father and son are reunited for a while under difficult circumstances but are then separated again. Manuel is good-natured, honest and hard-working. His quest is to find his father again. In the course of his quest we are shown a bit of what life was like in a long-gone San Francisco of over a hundred years ago.
 
I cannot claim that the book is great literature. I was, however, impressed by how well the author writes in English even though German was his first language. Obviously, my main motivation to read the book was that it was written by a distant Wyneken relative. Being very partial to San Francisco, I was also pleased to get a view of life in my favorite American city as seen through the window of a time machine.
 
Perhaps, after this brief description, one or more of the readers of this blog might give the book a try. It doesn’t cost anything to download a copy, and if it winds up not catching your fancy, you can just throw the file into your computer’s trash can.

A visit to Burg Großfurra in Thuringia

I am pleased to welcome to the pages of this blog my wife, Cindy.

b28b9-groc39ffurra

My Facebook friends can view more pictures at: http://on.fb.me/S0wXG7

This past August, she and I went on vacation in parts of Germany that were, for the most part, new to us. When I travel in Germany I like to try to insert activities that have something to do with my family history project. This vacation I had planned a few nights in Thuringia, a part of Germany that my von Wurmb and Zahn ancestors came from.
As this connection is specific to the Martin L. Wyneken branch of the family there are only very few Wynekens who share this ancestry. Still, our visit in Thuringia is worth writing about as it was very memorable and might prompt other people to pursue their own ancestral lines to see what kind of interesting places they can track down.

So with no further ado …

Guest blogger Cynthia Wyneken relates

Matthew and I spent two nights in a manor house that belonged to the von Wurmb family for many centuries, called Grossfurra.  A house that has been around for so long has, of course, gone through many changes.  The original house consists of so much, then new wings are added, a tower is built, parts are destroyed and rebuilt, decades pass, parts fall down or are reconstructed …

What’s left now is a huge stone building with a tower, and there are distinct wings that obviously were built at different times.  The tower has walls about five feet thick and is, I believe, the oldest part of the remaining building.  When the family last lived there, three separate family units inhabited the various wings.

Then Germany went to war, and the Communists took the land and estate buildings from all the rich old families in order to even everything out.  The building was used for a kindergarten, and housing for poor families, and wasn’t kept up.

When the Communist government fell, the building sat for a while, because the family no longer was rich enough to buy it back and restore it.  Now it has been purchased, renovated, and turned into a hotel and restaurant by a wonderfully energetic couple, Regina Scholz and Helmut Pohl.

It took them ten years to bring it to its present glory.  First they had to rip out all the decaying interiors and build it all back up again, then scour the country for enough antiques to fill all the rooms and corridors.  They made no attempt to keep the antiques authentic to any particular era, but old enough to give the impression of the various ages that people lived here.

The house itself is incredible fun!  It’s full of passages and odd nooks and doors that lead to surprising places.  We actually had a breakfast room all to ourselves that had a huge stone hearth, a table big enough to seat twelve set for two, meat and cheese and eggs laid out, and breads and cereals and coffee and tea on a sideboard.  We tried to feel like the lord and lady of the manor, but we felt more like eager children playing dress up.

Our hosts were extremely helpful and welcoming, and only partly because of Matthew’s relationship to the von Wurmb family.  It would seem natural if visiting von Wurmbs showed resentment at the manor no longer being in family hands, but this seems to be very little the case.  I personally think it has come into very good hands, and the family apparently is pleased that it has been so well restored instead of being allowed to disappear into the landscape as it was in danger of doing.

As an American and a modern person, I don’t like the idea of the ultra-rich living the easy life while the poor do all the work – but, setting that aside for the moment, being there was SO cool!  The old buildings, the huge trees, the tower, the crooked walls … to be staying in the rooms… it was fun to imagine being someone who was born there, whose family had been there for 200 years and was to stay for another 300.  Real people lived there – not histories or stories or political or social classes you read about, but people: young children, mothers, fathers, grandparents.  I lay in bed and looked up at the ceiling, and what occurred to me is that the von Wurmbs who lay there in that room looking up at that ceiling three or four hundred years ago were just humans like me.  No different.

The owner said one of the things he likes about running this place is the variety of people who stay here and all sit together around the same table.  There are people from all classes and all walks of life, something that would not have been possible in the old days.

I guess I prefer living in today’s world.  I’m a modern person.  But I love visiting the past, seeing how the other half lived, seeing the improvements that have been made in society as well as technology.

Spending a night or two in the past helps me better to appreciate the century I’m living in now.